Gov't aims at 77-M vax target to ensure voters' health, safety in May polls

Published January 18, 2022, 3:38 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Duterte administration is hoping to finish the vaccination of the entire adult population by the end of the first quarter this year as a way to protect the voters who will participate in the May 2022 polls.

(Noel Pabalate/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles gave this response Tuesday, Jan. 18, during a virrual press conference when asked if the government was worried about the high daily tallies of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) less than four months before the national and local elections.

“Ang next target po natin (Our next target in terms of vaccination) is to reach the 77 million-mark by end of first quarter of 2022, which is by end of March of 2022,” Nograles said.

“Kasi gusto po natin na (What we want is that) by end of first quarter, ang (our) total adult population po natin which incidentally are the voters kasi (because it’s the) adult population ‘di ba, so sila po ‘yung mga botante natin (they are our voters),” he noted.

“At bago pa man sumapit ang April or even May, gusto natin na iyong adult population natin ay lahat po ay fully vaccinated, fully vaccinated na. Sa ganoong paraan, dagdag proteksiyon para sa mga botante ‘no (We want our adult population to be fully vaccinated before April or even May. In that way, the voters will have additional protection),” he explained.

The next elections will take place on May 9.

The Philippines is currently grappling with a ferocious new surge in COVID-19 cases that’s supposedly being fueled by the Omicron variant. The past week has seen several single single-day records of fresh cases reaching over 37,000.

Nograles, spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), said Philippines had just reached the 54-million milestone in its mass inoculation program against COVID-19.

He said the 54 million fully vaccinated persons represent 70 percent of the total adult population of country, which is 77 million. The balance figure of 23 million is the number of vaccinations that the government is racing to achieve by March 31, 2022.

“Of course, kailangan patuloy pa rin iyong pagsuot ng mask ‘no, hugas, social distancing plus tamang ventilation and tamang bakuna ‘no (the wearing of masks, the washing of hands, social distancing plus proper ventilation and vaccination should continue). So iyong bakuna (Vaccination) is one layer of protection,” Nograles further said.

As for the minimum public health standards (MPHS) that he mentioned, he said it would be up to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to find a way to implement them come election day.

“So we will now leave it up to Comelec in the upcoming elections kung paano nila ma-implement iyong [MPHS] pagdating ng pagboto ng ating mga kababayan doon sa mga voting precincts (how they will implement the MPHS] on voters in the voting precincts). But as far as the administration of President Duterte is concerned, ang target natin (our target) before election—the election day, kailangan lahat ng ating adult population ay fully vaccinated na po (we need to have our entire adult population vaccinated),” the Cabinet Secretary noted.